Italy is synonymous for its incredible food and drink. From the robust, hearty meals of the north through to the light and summery offerings of the south, there is a culinary sensation to delight each one of your senses.
The food of Umbria is less known, but equally as delicious as its other better known regional cousins, taking inspiration from its peasant roots and the neighbouring influences of Tuscany.
Regional taste sensations include the beans that grow on the banks of Lake Trasimeno, olives in abundance, onions, pecorino cheese, wild boar and Umbria is the single biggest producer of truffles in Italy with Norcia being famous for its offerings. For those with a sweet tooth let’s not forget Perugia’s famous chocolate.
The regional pastas are simple and robust, often just made with flour and water, without the use of eggs as it was a cheaper and more filling version of the Italian staple that would fill the bellies of peasant workers and feed a vast family with minimal expense. Served with olive and garlic (aglio e olio) a simple tomato sauce or a rich but local cheese with truffle sauce, handmade Strangozzi (meaning shoe-string like or often referred to as “priest stranglers”) and Pici pastas will be found on menus across Umbria.
Cucina Povera (peasant food) is basic, yet truly delicious and easy to make. Basic breads which create a traditional Torta al Testo, pizzas, tomato salad, salumi, fagiola (beans), panzanella (bread salad with tomato and onions) and the famous Porchetta (whole roasted pork) sandwiches found on street food vans are just some of the “must tries” when in the region.
Seafood can be found, but is more expensive as Umbria is Italy’s only landlocked region, but fish freshly caught in Lake Trasimeno such as Carp and Perch are a mainstay of lake life with the fish simply grilled or stuffed and served in tomato based sauce.
… and let us not forget the wine… Umbria is fast becoming one of the most popular regions for wine with its fertile soils being home to native grapes such as Grechetto and Sangiovese… but let’s give the wine it’s own blog another week shall we, because it’s worth it!
Have you got a favourite Umbrian Cucina Povera recipe? I’d love to hear what it is.